Spotlight On: Miller Davis Group
Wendell Davis, co-owner of the Miller Davis Group, laughs when he says that unlike many rug businesses with roots in the Middle East or South Asia, family-owned Miller Davis Group is a real American story. The company was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, an area famous for its horses and with a long history in the tufting industry. The Miller Davis Group owes its early success to producing saddle blankets made of carpet.
The family business grew, and a second generation has taken over. Today, the Miller Davis Group, the parent company of Davis and Davis among other brands, not only sells New Zealand-wool hand-knotted and machine-made rugs but hand-knotted Tibetan carpets made in Nepal. According to Wendell, that's where GoodWeave® comes in. "Once the company was manufacturing outside of the United States, it was clear to me, and my brother-in-law and partner Dick Miller, that very special attention had to go to the workers. I'll never forget when we visited a factory in Kathmandu, looking for a place to make the rugs," Wendell says. "The owner showed us a school supported by the GoodWeave program. We just looked at each other and said, "This is what we're looking for!'"
Though a smaller part of the Miller Davis Group catalog, the almost 90 designs in Chinese silk and Tibetan wool in the "Explorer" collection fascinate Wendell, as does the country of Nepal. Wendell, who studied art and is a photographer and designer, is continually amazed at the craftsmanship of the weavers. There's always a lot of excitement when a new shipment is delivered. "Everything that comes in I want to take home," he says laughing.
As an artist, Wendell deeply appreciates his collaboration with the weavers. "When I see the rugs finished, it is evident that they have made my work my best work. I am very grateful!"
From the success of the company and its popularity with interior designers, it’s clear that a lot of other people are grateful for the rugs, including actor Vince Vaughn, the high rollers at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and even the British royal family. Wendell likes to visit his rugs now and then, and, although he has never dropped by Buckingham Palace, he has seen his carpets at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills and the Bellagio. "I just love seeing them. It's the full circle, and every time I think about all the families we are able to support because of the rugs."
Since starting the Tibetan line, Wendell has become increasingly interested in the Himalayan arts. "I have a vigilant attachment now to traditional Tibetan art," he says. Those designs have inspired the motifs in rugs such as "Serenity," "Continuity" and "Origins."
And clearly, Wendell has bonded with the people of Nepal. He respects the handicraft and diligence of the weavers, as well as their deep family bonds. "A family business has very particular characteristics," says Wendell. Belief in respect for self and others is a part of his family values, which are closely tied with what they do at work. "What we can do for our fellows is give them an opportunity. We can do that with our company."
That works from a business point of view too, he points out. He says the Miller Davis Group partnership with GoodWeave gives the interior designers he works with an answer to consumers’ concerns about child exploitation in the rug industry. "GoodWeave can't change the world, but it can establish a beachhead by giving some kids their childhoods back."
Learn more about the Miller Davis Group at www.davisrugs.com.
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